It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 3/21/16


On the blog:

In reading:

al capone does my shirts

Al Capone Does My Shirts is a marvelous read-aloud! It’s the first Newbery book my son has chosen as a read-aloud, and after we finished, he said he thought maybe we should look for more of those stickers. Yes! Please! For me, everything works in this book: the characters are interesting, richly developed, and flawed; the setting is pure genius and so believably rendered; the plot is plenty page-turney; and the sentence-level writing is strong. And that ending. Wow. So glad this is a trilogy. We’re well into Book 2 now. This series has also provided plenty of fodder for inquiry and web searches–AND the suggestion of a family vacation in San Francisco from the boy who never wants to leave the house. YES!

thank you and good night

Thank You and Good Night is a charming bedtime story by Patrick McDonnell. It ends up being a little too sweet for my taste (and there’s rhyme, too, which put me off), but the illustrations are adorable and I could see this becoming a favorite with young readers.

toys meet snow

Toys Meet Snow is picture book perfection for me. Just the right amounts of sweet and quirk. Some unexpectedly beautiful lines that really resonate paired with Paul Zelinsky’s fantastic artwork (Plastic’s Snow Angel is so funny) make this my favorite picture book of the month so far. I haven’t read Jenkins’s chapter book series about the toys, but now I want to!

here comes valentine cat

Deborah Underwood’s Cat series is so clever. There’s a quick plot to Valentine Cat and a nice story about making friends and being open to new experiences. Cat is wonderfully cranky and sly at times. I love how he dramatizes some of our less charitable and kind impulses but always comes around and does the right thing in the end. Claudie Rueda’s illustrations are a perfect fit for this story.


Richard Collingridge’s Lionheart is a must-see for the illustrations (that cover! And that cover only hints at some of the wonders within), but the story and writing did not work as well for me. The text was unnecessarily wordy at times, and the story didn’t feel fresh. But the illustrations!

be a friend

Salina Yoon’s Be a Friend is a lovely interpretation of the theme of friendship. This is a quiet story that crept up on me and resonated more fully than I expected afterward.

if you ever want to bring an alligator to school

As you might expect from that cover, If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, DON’T! is a hoot. So much to look at and enjoy in the illustrations, and the story line is delight. This would be a terrific read-aloud.





20 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 3/21/16”

  1. Cheriee Weichel Avatar

    I liked Be a Friend, but honestly, it didn’t quite work for me in the way it did for others. I preferred Nerdy Birdy. I loved Al Capone Does My Shirts so much that I purchased a lit circle set for our school. I haven’t read any of the sequels, although they are on my list of to read books. I think I’m going to have to find a copy of If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, DON’T!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I actually read Be a Friend twice with a week in between before I posted because the first time through, it really didn’t grab me or work for me. I liked it better the second time, though it’s by no means a heartprint title for me as it clearly is for others. I did find the art very charming, though. I don’t think Al Capone Shines My Shoes is quite as strong as the first book, but it’s still very good and a delight if you love the first book.

  2. Mrs. Shaum's Class (@MrsShaumsClass) Avatar

    I agree with you about the read aloud potential of Al Capone Does My Shirts. I listened to the audio of that book and the narrator was fantastic. I still remember what a great opening paragraph that book has. It made me laugh out loud.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      My son was hooked from the first sentence! I can’t believe how much he is loving this series. SO happy there are three books. That’s just the best thing ever for the reluctant or semi-reluctant reader!

  3. msoreadsbookstx Avatar

    The first Al Capone was my favorite but the others are good, too. I am jealous … my assistant is running a lit circle (long and crazy story about hours of the library staff are allocated this year :P) with Al and they are so loving it. And I’m like “I KNOW … the book room has a set because I suggested it!” I got to visit San Francisco a few years ago. For the first time since I actually lived on the Presidio as a 4 and just turned 5 year old. A great trip! Just bring clothes for warm and freezing weather, even in the summer. Rest of the year always cold.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      We’re in the middle of Book 2 now and loving it. I think we’ve even moved into the definite phase of planning a trip! I’m thinking of driving so we can go to the Grand Canyon–which my son has wanted to visit since the scene in one of the Rick Riordan books. How much do I love it that our first vacation is going to revolve around places he read about in books?!

  4. Michele Avatar

    I loved the illustrations in Alligator too! And I agree, I think the illustrations were the standout in Lionheart.
    One day I’ll get to Al Capone. I should put it on my #mustread list one of these years!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Oh yes, Michele. I think you will like Al Capone quite a bit. I wish I had liked the writing in Lionheart a little more because the illustrations are stellar. That color palate!

  5. Maureen Avatar

    Love the links to blog slices – great idea for ” what are you reading” ! The alligator book looks like real fun.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m terrible at promoting a post after I’ve published it, so I do this and call it good, LOL. The alligator book is a hoot–wish I’d had a class of kids to read it to!

  6. Jane Whittingham Avatar

    Valentine Cat is the only one of these titles I’ve read so far….it seems that I can never seem to keep up with all the great reading I want to do, just too many titles still to get to! 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I know, Jane. So many books–all the time!

  7. Ricki Ginsberg Avatar

    Be a Friend looks great. I like how you say it crept up on you. I am going to get a copy and read it to my son. The title sounds like it is an important story.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Sometimes the quieter titles take awhile to start working for me. I find it really helpful to read other bloggers’ opinions because they remind me to slow down and reflect a little more.

  8. Linda Baie Avatar

    I love Toys Meet Snow, too, have the chapter book but also haven’t read it. I just ordered Lionheart from the library, looks nice. Must find If You Ever Want To Bring An Alligator to School, Don’t. I know the grand-girls will love it. Thanks, Elisabeth!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I think the grand-girls would find the alligator book great good fun, Linda. I want my own copy of Toys Meet Snow now. As soon as I finished it, I had to press it into someone’s hands, so my poor husband suddenly found himself in the middle of a chore, reading Toys Meet Snow! Would be curious about how the text in Lionheart works as a read-aloud if you share with granddaughters.

  9. Kellee from Unleashing Readers (@kelleemoye) Avatar

    I loved Al Capone also! Are you going to read the sequels with him?

    Happy reading this week! 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes, we’re reading the second book right now and have the third from the library as well. I’m hearing a lot of “Just one more chapter, Mom, please!” which he knows I can’t resist. Bedtime gets blown through every night, basically. But it’s so good!

  10. Myra GB Avatar

    My family and I visited Alcatraz a few years back and it was a truly unforgettable experience. I do have the Al Capone novels but haven’t gotten around to reading them yet – I think I should look into reading them soon. The alligator picturebook does look hilarious – will be on the lookout for that one.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’ve been before too, Myra, and still remember–and I must have been 13 at the time. I’m excited about taking my son this summer. Think he will be so fascinated by it. Anything else you’d recommend doing in San Fran? So many options! And such a beautiful city….

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